“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” — William Carey
My 20 year old daughter is in Wyoming’s Wind River Range on a 40 day backpacking trip with Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries. There’s no phone service and sending or receiving letters is sporadic. Carrying a 50 pound backpack on a 120 mile journey, not taking a shower and dealing with rain and mosquitos for over a month leaves most people speechless as to why, exactly, she is doing this. I’ve found that explaining the certifications she will receive, the degree that she is getting, her love of adventure, the absolute beauty and peace of God’s creation, the training that will enable her to lead groups to other areas of the world or the spiritual aspect of it all doesn’t seem to clarify anything.
Like me, my daughter has wanderlust – but it’s a wanderlust with a purpose and it’s made me think a lot about my faith lately.
Most people my age and older really struggle with this generation and their need to travel. I think it has to do with our sense of responsibility as well as our idea of what success is. (It may have to do with the fact that we didn’t get to do it.) After all, the majority of our lives looked something like this: graduate from High School, get a college degree or some sort of training, get a job, get married, have kids and save for retirement. Don’t misunderstand me. I believe that many of the younger generation need to learn a whole lot about responsibility and working hard but for those students that I have the privilege of knowing…their desire to travel is about much more than fun.
One of my friends sent her daughter across the country to a discipleship training school. She spent a month in the devastated areas of Haiti praying, working and loving people. Another friend’s son and daughter-in-law spent the last year working and living on the bare minimum so that they could give away all that they own, fly to hurting areas of the world and be God’s hands and feet to people they have never met but have a deep love for. Another friend just put her daughter on a plane to Taiwan to do the same thing for three weeks. Three young men simply bought a ticket to India and plan to follow God’s leading as they travel and minister to the needs of people they come in contact with. A beautiful young woman spent over a week in Joplin, Missouri helping victims of the horrible tornado there. Her best friend travels to Guatemala each summer on a medical mission as she trains to be a nurse. A group of college students traveled to India to help an organization that rescues girls from slave trafficking . The stories are endless.
The thing that has made me examine my faith is the response I so often hear from parents. “How can you let them do that? It’s not safe.” I struggle with those thoughts. What parent wants to think of their child in danger? But the simple truth is that we weren’t meant to live safe lives. Blindly jumping into a dangerous situation isn’t wise but neither is avoiding a call on ones life because it may be uncomfortable. God is stretching my faith as I become the mom of young adults. Part of me is envious of the things they are getting to do and the passion that they have found for God’s mission in the world. Part of me wants them to settle down, buy a house and have a great 401K. And yet another part recognizes that my generation and our preoccupation with comfort has not done the world all that much good. This generation lives in a global society and they are much more aware of the tragedy and need around them. I’m touched by their compassionate hearts. I applaud the efforts of young people just to do something. Anything! I think i can learn something from them and, the exciting thing is, I’m at a stage of life when I might can actually act on what I learn.
I’m pretty sure that Moses didn’t feel safe when he walked back to Egypt, as a fugitive, to attempt the crazy mission God had given him. Paul probably didn’t feel safe after the first town that tried to stone him to death. Jim Elliott definitely wasn’t safe when he was murdered trying to befriend Indians in Ecuador. The amazing thing is that all of these men, and thousands more, have made huge impacts on the world because their safety wasn’t their first concern. God’s love for people motivated them and His grace carried them. They expected God to do great things and they simply wanted to be involved. I think that characterizes many of this generation and I’m so very proud. Walking by faith. That’s going to be a long journey for me but I expect that God and I will see some amazing sights along the way.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien